Sleep plays an essential role in our day to day lives. We spend about one-third of our lives in this dormant state, letting our brains and bodies rest and recharge for the next day. However, one in three adults struggle to get enough sleep. If you’re not getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night, you could be putting your self at an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and frequent mental distress. On top of this, if you don’t get enough sleep, you could possibly be putting yourself at higher risk for general colds and the flu. Normally, colds develop within only 3 days of contact with a virus, so making sure that you are getting enough sleep is extremely important. Luckily, there are many things you can do to help you get a better night’s sleep.
Prep Your Bed
Making sure that your bed is ready for you to sleep in is extremely important each night. If your bed and bedroom are a complete mess, then you may have a better chance sleeping on the couch. And that is something you definitely do not want to do. In order to sleep better at night, we need a space dedicated to only sleep. The couch is somewhere that we spend an average of four of our waking hours, watching movies, tv, doing work, and a multitude of other things.
On top of making sure your bed and bedroom is clean, you may want to think about regularly washing your sheets, keeping them fresh and smelling good. Not only will this help you and your bed stay clean at night, but the fresh scent may help you fall asleep. Three-quarters of people say that they get a more comfortable night’s sleep when they have sheets with a fresh scent.
Solidify Your Routines
Building the habit of practicing wake-up and wind-down routines can greatly impact your ability to get enough sleep each day. Wind-down routines can help communicate to your brain and body that it’s time to go to sleep, and help you fall asleep easier. A wake-up routine helps you on the other end, making sure that you start your day off on the right foot, ensuring you get enough sleep and aren’t mindlessly floating through each day. But what might each of these look like?
Each evening, you may want to consider the following things:
- Turn off electronics an hour before you intend to sleep
- Journal and reflect about how the day went and what you could do better tomorrow
- Plan the following day
- Write down things you are grateful for that day (The Journal of Psychosomatic Research showed that those who expressed gratitude are able to fall asleep easier.)
On the other side, when it’s time to wake up, you may want to consider these:
- Drinking a glass of water
- Make your bed
By solidifying a morning and evening routine, you can normalize your sleep schedule and get your body used to doing the routine every day.
Help Yourself Be Tired
Outside of these other tips, another thing you can do is to help yourself be tired when its time to go to bed. You can help your body get tired throughout the day through various means.
- Exercise: Exercise can drastically help you to fall asleep more quickly. After 4 to 24 weeks of consistent exercise, those with insomnia were able to fall asleep quicker, longer, and have a better quality of sleep. There are tons of opportunities to do this, from signing up at your local gym to going for a swim or kayak ride in a local body of water (of which 71% of the earth is covered by).
- Monitor Your Caffeine Consumption: For humans, the half-life of caffeine is up to 5 hours long. That means if you have a cup of coffee, half of the caffeine will still be in your bloodstream 5 hours later. Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, this means that the caffeine could affect you for anywhere from just a few hours to several days. Understanding your caffeine sensitivity and how cutting out caffeine affects your sleep can help you in getting your self to fall asleep easier.
- Turn Down The Lights: It’s normal human nature to associate the bright sunlight with being awake, and dark night time with being asleep. In the age of bright screens and lights, it can be difficult for your body to tell what is light from the sun and what is light from your computer. Research has found that blue light (which is a big part of our screens and lights) suppresses the generation of melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone. Limiting the amount of blue light for at least an hour before bed will help your body produce more melatonin, and make it easier for you to fall asleep.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, it can be worth it to try some of these strategies and see what works for you. If these don’t work, be sure to reach out to your general physician if the problem is really affecting your day to day life. Regardless of your situation, we can all stand to build some better sleep habits through these methods.
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